One in 50 on the streets has TB

briefing: Homelessness
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The Independent Online
Health chiefs are ignoring the risk of tuberculosis to homeless people, new research claims. One in 50 rough sleepers has TB - 200 times the average rate - yet fewer than a third of health authorities and trusts are providing services to reduce the risk of catching the disease, according to homeless charity Crisis.

Research by the charity shows that only 21 per cent of health authorities operate screening programmes for homeless people. Only 20 per cent monitor the housing of hospital patients and only 36 per cent have a member of staff following up homeless TB patients.

The charity claims only minimal extra money is needed to put more efficient plans into practice.

Dr Ken Citron, who carried out the research, said: "The problem is not yet at epidemic levels, and we have enough time and knowledge to make sure it doesn't become so. However, if health care purchasers and providers don't act, many people will suffer unnecessarily."